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College students respond better to positive anti-binge drinking messages
Date:6/1/2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. Binge drinking among college students has long been viewed as dangerous and destructive. Government and non-profit health organizations spend millions of dollars annually on public service announcements (PSAs) aimed at dissuading college students from hazardous drinking habits. These organizations primarily use "loss-framed", or negative messages to show the dangers of binge drinking. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that "gain-framed", or positive messages are much more effective in convincing college students to abandon binge drinking.Gain-framed messages portray a positive reason for avoiding risky behavior such as improved grades or more fulfilling relationships. Alternatively, a loss-framed message would focus on negative consequences, such as failing school or suffering from health problems. Through in-depth interviews of college students, Joonghwa Lee, a doctoral candidate at the Missouri School of Journalism, identified four areas of interest for college students regarding the effects of binge drinking: relationships, academic success, health, and control safety.

"We found that gain-framed anti-binge drinking messages featuring relationships and academic performance were much more effective in convincing students to avoid binge drinking than negative messages," Lee said. "College students want to know how an action will help them, not how they could be hurt. Not many college students respond well to threats."For the study, participants received either gain-framed or loss-framed printed PSA messages addressing each of the four areas of interest. The researchers observed that participants responded most positively to gain-framed messages showing that avoiding binge drinking increases the quality of relationships. Academic success was ranked second, followed by messages touting better health to those who do not binge drink. Seoyeon Kim, a masters student at the Missouri School of Journalism believes this study shows th
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Contact: Nathan Hurst
hurstn@missouri.edu
573-882-6217
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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